Having authored a trilogy of thrillers based on Kate Conway as an intrepid investigative reporter, I’m pointing out some of the classics that inspired me—and based on their explosive story value may inspire you.
Citizen Kane (1941)
The brilliant expose and bio-pic of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Directed by and starring Orson Welles. Often ranked as the greatest movie of all time. Script by Welles and Herman Mankiewicz.
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Boston reporter Huntley Haverstock witnesses espionage, assassination, and windmills that turn the wrong way in uncovering a spy ring of war-mongering Fascists on the eve of World War II. This Alfred Hitchcock gem starred Joel McCrea and featured Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, and George Sanders.
The Story Of G.I. Joe (1945)
Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith) follows a platoon of infantrymen from the battlefields of North Africa to the devastated townships of Italy, getting to know each intimately. The combat scenes are intense and realistic, but the film also shows the humdrum day-to-day duties and concerns of enlisted men with an almost documentary-like fidelity.
The Parallax View (1974)
A reporter played by Warren Beatty becomes enmeshed in a wide-ranging conspiracy in the wake of a prominent senator's assassination. With Paula Prentiss and Hume Cronyn. Director Alan J. Pakula brilliantly stirs up fears and doubts about our country's recent past. Based on the novel by Loren Singer.
All The President's Men (1976)
The movie version of the historic sleuthing by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in establishing the missing link between the 1972 Watergate burglary and a White House staffer. Played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, the pair have the blessing of executive editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) as they "follow the money" to bring down the Nixon Presidency that two years prior had won re-election by the widest margin in history. Faithfully adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book.
The China Syndrome (1979)
Jane Fonda plays an ambitious TV reporter who discovers irregularities at a nuclear power plant. Co-star Jack Lemmon won an Oscar as a concerned plant operator. This tense and timely nail-biter is effective not only because director James Bridges gets all the fundamentals right, but because its explosive subject matter would soon hit home with a terrifying real-life incident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania.
The Year Of Living Dangerously (1982)
It’s l965 and an Australian reporter played by Mel Gibson arrives in Indonesia to get the goods on the turbulent Sukarno regime. There he meets a British embassy attaché played by Sigourney Weaver and romantic sparks fly. Director Peter Weir heightens our awareness of impending societal disruption but actress Linda Hunt is the spell-binder in the gender-bending role of Billy, winning her a richly deserved Oscar.
The Killing Fields (1984)
New York Times reporter Sidney Schanberg, played by Sam Waterston, covers the growing unrest in Cambodia along with his assistant Dith Pran until the 1975 take-over by Khmer Rouge guerrillas. Dith Pran endures years of torture during the genocide before escaping. Director Roland Joffe crafts an authentic and intelligent portrayal of individual heroism. As Dith Pran, Haing S. Ngor, a non-professional actor, won an Oscar.
The Insider (1999)
In this true story Russell Crowe plays Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, an embittered tobacco company employee who decides to blow the whistle on mammoth employer Brown & Williamson's deceptive practices. He enlists the help of Lowell Bergman, senior producer on 60 Minutes (Al Pacino) to get the story out and in the harrowing process both men's lives are nearly destroyed. Directed with breathtaking care and innuendo by Michael Mann.
Shattered Glass (2003)
Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) is a rising young reporter for The New Republic, whose shocking stories about celebrity hackers and illegal hijinks at a Young Republican convention earn him the respect and admiration of his peers, not to mention kudos from managing editor Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria). But Glass's highly irregular reporting practices gradually come to light in the form of rampant plagiarism.
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